Friday, June 19, 2015

The Story of the Bible (TAN Books)

There are many ways to educate your children. I am the product of Catholic school and public school, and my wife was strictly Catholic schooled. In a few years, she and I will have to decide how to educate our child(ren), and for us there are only two options - Catholic school or homeschool. Homeschool used to be a dirty word, but in the past decade, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children has increased exponentially, and I for one am pleased about that, because with this rapid growth means better curriculum, both secular and religious. Leading the charge for quality Catholic homeschool materials is TAN Books. TAN Books has recently launched a new website called TAN Homeschool, which includes blog posts, freebies, and a recently released, groundbreaking Bible education series called The Story of the Bible!

The Story of the Bible is a comprehensive program, which includes a textbook, test book, activity book, teacher's manual, dramatized audiobook, AND lecture DVDs! I was provided with a review copy of the Old Testament materials, so let me tell you about it. The textbook is approximately 300 pages long and is divided into five parts:

1. How God Came to Promise Us a Redeemer
2. How God Founded the Nation from Which the Redeemer of the World Came
3. How God Protected His Chosen People and Led Them Into the Promised Land
4. How God's Chosen People Lived Under Their Kings
5. How God's People Went Into Exile and Returned

As you can see, Part One deals with the Creation story. Parts Two and Three deal with the Pentateuch. Part Four is during the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon; and Part Five is under the time of the Prophets. Now don't be confused. Even though the textbook has Scriptural quotes in it, it is not an actual Bible. This book is part summary of important Bible stories, part explanation, and part reflection. Therefore, your child will want and need a Bible with this book. Different people have different opinions on which Bible to get, but I always recommend the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), since that is what they will hear every Sunday at Mass.

The Teacher's Manual contains guided lessons, which include a Bible passage for Lectio Divina, questions for review, narration exercises, craft projects, and even food projects! The manual also corresponds with an Activity Book, which contains coloring pages, word searches, and crossword puzzles. There is also the dreaded Test Book. No child likes tests, but these tests are all multiple choice and matching. I would prefer if they added some essay exercises or short answers, but any good homeschooling parent can improvise and come up with these for his or herself.

And now for my favorite part of this comprehensive program...the audio CDs and DVD lessons! The CDs are dramatized audiobooks, which are produced and read by Kevin Gallagher, who has narrated a handful of TAN Books. He has a rich voice and one that you can listen to for hours. There is also music and sound effects, which children young and old will appreciate. Having a physical book is nice, but younger kids sometimes get intimidated by so many words. With the CDs, they can still listen to the book and follow along. Plus, the whole family can listen to it, without having to fight over the textbook! The DVD lessons, which I have included a sample of one below, are presented by Brian Kennelly. He has a nice way of presenting the material so it is accessible, but not dumbed down.

Overall, I found myself very impressed with this series on the Old Testament, and if the New Testament is half as good as this one, I'm sure it's a home run as well. As stated earlier, this is geared toward the homeschool crowd, but I believe any Catholic family with children will find value in this program. Religious education begins at home, and if your child goes to Catholic school or public school, you cannot expect the Church to solely teach your child about their faith. I highly recommend this program for all Catholic families. Be sure to sign up at the bottom of the TAN Homeschool page and receive 30% off your first order. Also check back frequently at TAN Homeschool for all the updates they will be rolling out. I guarantee it will be great!

This program was provided to me for free by TAN Books in exchange for an honest review.

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